Not To Be Trusted With Knives

Yesterday, Airdrie posted her answers to interview questions given to her by Keira-Anne, who had posted her answers to interview questions given to her… well, you get the idea.  Anyhoo, I took Airdrie up on her offer to interview people.  Here are her questions and my answers:

1.  What are five of your favourite movies?

Fight Club definitely ranks up there with one of my fav movies, as does the Matrix.  I saw both of those when they first came out before there was a huge amount of hype about them (especially Fight Club, I don’t think I’d even heard of Fight Club and we just ended up seeing it because we wanted to see a movie and nothing else playing that day looked any good).  Fight Club was so well written, well acted, well directed and it was unlike any other movie I’d seen.  Similarly, the Matrix was unlike anything I’d ever seen before – the special effects, which were created because they were actually needed for the plot and not just because they looked cool, totally blew me away.  But the thing that really clinches it for me with both those movies is that not only were they very entertaining in their own right, they both had really insightful social commentaries to make.

American Beauty is another one of my favourites – like Fight Club & the Matrix, it had a compelling story, amazing direction and thoughtful social commentary to make.

I don’t think I ever laughed as hard at a movie as I did when I saw South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut in the theatre, so that has to be on the list.  I remember sitting in the theatre watching the South Park kids sitting in the theatre watching Terrance and Phillip sing, “Shut Your Fucking Face, Uncle Fucker.” We all sat their in our seats in the theatre, stunned, thinking, “Oh my god, did they really just *say* that?” while, on the screen, the South Park kids sat in their seats in the theatre saying, “Oh my god, did they really just *say* that?”  I heart self reflexivity.

Interestingly, all four of those movies were released in 1999. Best year for movies EVAR!

For my fifth movie, I’m going with Zoolander.  As evidenced by the inclusion of the South Park movie on my list, I like stupid humour.  Usually stupid humour is only funny the first time around, but Zoolander, for some reason, stays funny no matter how many times you watch it.  And I’ve watched Zoolander many, many times and it’s just as funny the 20th time as it was the first time.  Or maybe I like it because I’m really, really, ridiculously good looking.

2.  You are mailed a box with $10K cash inside, and a note that says “Pay It Forward!”  What do you do?

I would use it to pay off some of my friend Z’s student loan.  Z did her Ph.D. along with me and, like me, accumulated a significant student debt. Unlike me, she did her Ph.D. while raising two kids on her own.  She’s very bright and very dedicated and she’s one of the hardest workers I know.  Even though she now has a great job that she loves, one doesn’t go into academics for the money and I’m sure that $10K coming off her student loan debt would be a welcome relief.

Damn, now I wish I actually had $10K to pay forward!

3. What was the hardest thing about your teenage years? The best thing?

Me, all dressed up for the high school semi-formal dance.

Me, all dressed up for the high school semi-formal dance.

I think the hardest thing about my teenage years was the crappy jobs I worked.  I knew that university was going to be expensive, so I had one (sometimes two) jobs throughout my teen years (actually, starting with my paper route at about age 8, I’ve always had at least one job!).  The worst of the worst was working in the brake part factory where my dad worked the summer that I was 19.  I worked midnights (which sucked) on a 400 degree oven that cooks the brake parts in the heat and humidity of a southern Ontario summer (which really, really sucked).  Oh yeah, and the material used to make the brake parts contained absestos.

The best part… hmm… I guess the best part was hanging out with my friends.

Erin, me (dressed for my role as Miss Casewell), Sarah (dressed for her role as Mollie Ralston), Darren.

From a high school performance of "The Mousetrap." From left to right: Erin, me (dressed for my role as Miss Casewell), Sarah (dressed for her role as Mollie Ralston), Darren.

Despite having jobs and a volunteer position, I didn’t spend very much time during my teenage years doing homework, so had a fair bit of time to hang out with friends.  Mostly at Tim Horton’s (there really wasn’t a lot to do in the town I grew up in).  The semester I had all the same classes as my friend Sarah – that was good times.  Or when Sarah & I used to sign ourselves out of class, claiming we were working on the “gifted” program conference (in later years, we’d sign out younger students too). Or the time I packed the entire cast of our high school version of “The Mousetrap” into my parents’ Jeep to go watch a performance of “The Mousetrap” in Toronto.  Or the time I packed about a dozen people into my parent’s Jeep in front of my friend’s dad, who was a *cop*, to go to McDonald’s.  Yeah, so I guess the best thing in my teenage years was packing way too many people into my parents’ Jeep.

4.  What makes you sad?

Lots of things make me sad:  My Granny passing away.  Seeing how sad my niece was when my family dropped me off at the airport at the end of my recent trip to visit them (I miss her a lot!).  Seeing my friends or family in pain.  The song “Hate Me” by Blue October.  The thought that I may never pay off my enormous student loans.

Fortunately, many things make me happy too!

5.  Tell us about the last time you had an adventure.

Hmmm, define adventure. 

Getting home from Mexico was a bit of an adventure.  The 12 Bars of Christmas is always an adventure.  Surfing in Tofino in Januar was definitely an adventure, but that was almost two years ago now!

Damn, I really need more adventure in my life!

And now it’s time to meme:

Want to get in on the fun? You can be a part of it by following a few simple steps…
Send me an e-mail with the subject line “Interview Me”
I’ll respond within 24-ish hours with 5 questions directed to you (I promise to try and be unique)
Answer the questions on your blog (or Facebook or MySpace) and link back to this original post
Invite others to participate by re-posting these steps

Also, email me if you any good ideas for an adventure!

Image credits:


{April 12, 2008}   Ramblings about Coffee

As I grew up in Ontario, and even spent a few years in Hamilton, home of the original Tim Horton‘s store and more Tim Horton’s per capita than anywhere else¹, I have a special place in my heart for Timmy’s. Many a high school class was skipped so that my friends and I could hang out in one of the local Timmy’s, of which there were several nearby, with Sarah inevitably spilling her double-double down her white Catholic school² uniform blouse.

But now that I’m a Vancouverite, having spent the last 7+ years deep in the heart of Starbucks-land, where there are also wonderful independent coffee shops in every store that isn’t a Starbucks or a sushi joint, I’ve finally come to admit the truth. As hard as it is for me to say this… Tim Horton’s coffee just doesn’t taste that good. Heresy, I know, but it’s true. I still purchase, and enjoy, a Timmy’s coffee now and again, especially on my way to play hockey, but I know that I enjoy the nostalgia of it, not the flavour. Now, that’s not to say that I like Starbucks coffee, because I don’t. It tastes like someone burnt the coffee beans in the seventh level of Hell for a few millennia before they brewed the coffee. But an Americano³ from Starbucks with a little bit of vanilla sugar in it sure tastes better than a cup of Timmy Ho’s. Even better, though, is a coffee from Beantown Coffee House on Dunbar, poured with a smile by the owner, Jeff, who always remembers that I get my breakfast bagel with no meat or mayo, or a cup of the fair-trade organic Bolivian Cafe La Paz that I buy, on sale4, from Stong’s and brew at home myself.

OK, wait, now I don’t even remember where I was going with this. Oh yes, I went to get some breakfast this morning and picked up an Americano at Starbucks, only to discover that they were out of their veggie breakfast eggwiches, so I had to go across the road to get a Timmy’s breakfast bagel. Here’s a comparison of what it cost:

  • Starbucks Americano: $2.15
  • Timmy’s Breakfast Bagel, no meat: $2.09

So my *meal* at Timmy’s cost less than my *drink* at Starbucks. And I got one of the cheaper coffees – not a $5+ venti, extra-hot, half-sweet, non-fat soy, caramel vanilla honey, easy foam, double caffeinated, extra shot, mochacino macchiato with whip.

In conclusion, I’d like to share with you this photo that I took at one of the Starbucks on campus yesterday. Pot Doughnuts. Only in Vancouver.

¹Anyone who has ever lived, worked and/or gone to school in Hamilton, Ontario is required, by law, to know and tell anyone and everyone that will listen, this ever important fact.
²Yeah, I went to a Catholic school. Kind of hard to believe, eh?
³Which is, in truth, just watered down espresso in what I’m sure is a European joke on the weakness of American coffee.
4And it’s *always* on sale. I’ve been buying it for over a year now and have never seen it being sold for the regular price.

{March 17, 2008}   I have been remiss!

March 16 was my grandpa’s 85th birthday and I neglected to blog it!

Just think about celebrating an 85th birthday- 85 years is a long, long time! Born in 1923, he’s seen 14 of the 22 Canadian Prime Ministers¹ in his lifetime. He’s had 6 kids, 9 grandkids, 10 great grandkids and 1 great, great grandkid. And counting. When I was born, my grandpa was only 52 years old, a full 10 years *younger* than my dad is now. And am one of the youngest of his grandkids (7th of the 9). Stuff like that just blows my mind. Especially since I live so far away from my family and only get to see them every few years, I forget how much everyone has aged. When I think of my family, I picture my parents in their 40s and my grandparents in their 60s. They were considerably older than that when I left Ontario, so I have no idea why these are the ages that have stuck in my mind.

Some fun random things about my grandpa (if you can believe his tall tales and my shoddy memory):

  • one of my fondest memories from my childhood is tobogganing with my grandpa on my birthday (although it might have been my cousin’s birthday… or possibly some random, non-birthday day). He got me and all of my cousins these orange Howard Johnson toques (he worked at the HoJo at the time)
  • Grandpa is blind in one eye from bovine tuberculous, which he contracted when he was young. He wanted to fight in WWII and so he memorized the eye chart in order to pass the eye exam part of the physical. It worked, but his dad, who had fought in WWI, including at Vimy Ridge, ratted him out and so he never went to war.
  • Grandpa tells the same jokes, repeatedly. Apparently this trait is genetic, as a number of his children and grandchildren do the same thing.
  • Fortunately, longevity runs in my family. My Great Granny (my grandpa’s mom) lived to 98 years old². So I look forward to celebrating my grandpa’s birthday for at least another 13 years =)

¹Speaking of which, I haven’t forgotten this week’s installment of my prime ministerial series. It just got preempted by hockey playoff action. It will run in tomorrow’s blog and then will resume its regularly scheduled Sunday spot this weekend.
²Or was it 99?

{January 24, 2008}   I h8 being sick

Not that I imagine anyone actually likes being sick. But I really, really hate it. My bronchitis-related coughing and tiredness led me to call in sick both yesterday and today. I have just been too tired to actually be productive and I’m probably spreading germs to all my co-workers.1. And I really, really hate calling in sick.  Of the 9.5 months I worked in 2007, I only took one sick day and that was the day I got my wisdom teeth out – I scheduled my sick day for the least possible disruption!  I seem to have inherited my father’s “work ethic.2” My father, you see, is obsessed with perfect attendance. He’s been at his current job for ~14 years. And in that 14 years, he has never missed a day. Not. One. Single. Day. And he has never been late to work. Not once in 14 years. At his previous job, where he installed transmissions in Mack Trucks before the factory closed down, he could tell you each of the individual days he missed in the 20+ years he worked there. “The day your sister was born,” he would tell me, “And the day you were born. I took a day to go to your grandmother’s funeral and a day to go to your grandfather’s funeral. There was the time I had pneumonia. I took an afternoon off once to go to my good friend’s funeral.”  So I have this crazy idea that calling in sick means I’m bad.  I’m not dedicated to my work.  I’m weak.  Objectively, I know all this is ridiculous.  I know that going to work when I’m sick would only mean that I’m not resting, not getting better, dragging out the illness.  Plus, I’m wouldn’t even be all that productive if I were at work, because I’m so damn tired.  Not to mention potentially infecting everyone around me.  But my gut reaction is still to feel guilty about missing two whole days of work!

GAH!!!  There was just a spider crawling on my couch!!  Right fucking next to me!!  Here I was, innocently proofreading the first overlong paragraph of my blog posting and a big goddamn motherfucking spider comes crawling along, less than a foot from where I am sitting!  It’s like the motherfuckers *know.*  They *know* the terror they instill in me.  They smell my fear and they are evil.  Now I forget where I was even going with this blog posting.  Is this week over yet?

1And seeing as I work in a hospital, it’s not very kind of me to go there spreading my icky germs to people who really don’t need to be exposed to any more germs than they already are!
2Which I usually call “work ethic to the point of stupidity.” The man went to work with shingles, for god’s sake. Shingles! And he works in a factory on a very, very hot oven making brake parts, where you have to wear coveralls and it’s very, very, stupidly, ridiculously hot2
3I know this because I worked there too, for a summer3 during my undergrad.
4Longest four months of my life!

{October 17, 2007}   Now I have two, two ouchies!
So I come home from Third Tuesday last night and, realizing that a Bellini and a few nachos do not a dinner make1, I decide to cook some pizza. Now, since I lack a proper oven mitt2, I took the pizza out of the oven using a dish towel. A very thin dish towel. And when I discover3 that it’s rather hot and going to burn me through said dish towel, what do I do? I touch the damn cookie sheet with the index finger of my other hand, like as if I’m going to grab it with my bare hand because it’s too hot to hold with a dish towel. Ya, that’s right, skin directly on metal.

So now I have a burnt index finger to go with middle finger that I slammed the door on the day before. I think I may have burnt my fingerprint right off my finger. I’m now contemplating going on a crime spree in which I commit said crimes with only my left index finger, since they won’t be able to get any prints.

So, yes, now I have two, two ouchies! The Count would be proud.

In a tangentially related story, when we were little, my sister was afraid to go in the basement because she believed the Count, who she was afraid of, lived in the drier in the laundry room. Which is funny, because it would have made more sense to be afraid of those things that really did live in the basement.

1For the record, I was planning to get something to eat, but the people at 3T were too fascinating and I got all caught up in conversations and didn’t get around to actually ordering any food.
2Note to self: put “oven mitt” on Christmas wish list.
3I say “discover” like I really didn’t know that when taking a cookie sheet out of a 450 degree oven the cookie sheet is going to be, well, 450 degrees.

{July 6, 2007}   I’m a Big Kid Now

My sister has been harassing me for the last decade to start an RRSP and my excuse of “I live on student loans below the freaking poverty line!” just doesn’t cut it anymore. Since I’ve been happy so far with my dealings with Vancity, and since I knew that they have options for “socially responsible investing,” I decided to start my RRSP with them. So now I have an RRSP. Just like a grown up.

This had me thinking about my grade 4 teacher. I remember, just like it was yesterday, her telling my class that within our lifetimes there would be no more paper money and no more coins. “Everything will just be points,” she said, “and you’ll pay for things with a plastic card and your paycheque will just show up as points in your account.” I remember thinking she was crazy. No paper money, no written cheques… in my lifetime? No way, I thought! Granted, we aren’t quite there yet (e.g., my favourite produce store only accepts cash), but we are pretty damn close. Today alone:

  • points automatically went from my employer to my two bank accounts
  • points automatically went from my employer to the government (for my taxes, CPP, EI) and to my pension plan
  • points automatically went from my bank account to my student loan accounts
  • points went from my other bank account to my two credit cards and my cell phone company via online banking
  • points went from that bank account to an RSP account

And all of this was done without anything physical changing hands… someone typed something into a computer and viola! – it is done.

And, what’s more, for signing up for a new internet connection1, I got a “100 point” AmEx card. Each point is worth $1, so I’m not sure why they don’t just call it a $100 card. But regardless. I used it to buy myself a bluetooth headset for my beloved Treo. So, yes, now I’m going to be one of those people, walking around with an earphone, looking like I’m talking to myself. On the plus side, when I’m talking to myself, people will just thinking I’m on my phone now.

1and it wasn’t even really a new internet connection. I was just going to change the account from Danielle’s name to mine, but the customer service person said, “why don’t we just cancel hers and start one in your name? There’s no connection fee and you’ll get a free gift and a free router/modem.”

When I was a kid, my sister had a Lite Brite, which provided us with hours and hours of endless fun. And now, thanks to the magic powers on the internets, I can have such fun again at this Lite-Brite website.

Of course, 99 times out of 100, this is what I’d do with Lite Brite:

I think I may have an ego problem.

{December 20, 2006}   Varia

Three blog postings in one day yesterday? That must mean (a) Beth has real work that she should be doing but isn’t, (b) Beth’s roommate has gone home for the holidays and there is no one here to listen to her various witty remarks, so she feels the need to blog.

Also, it appears, at least on my screen, that those clips from You Tube that I posted earlier are too wide and so they cover up the stuff on my sidebar. And, since I’m too lazy to figure out how to re-size it, I figured I would just write another post to push that one further down on the screen. And I also figured that if I put photos in, it would be even easier to make a sufficiently long posting to do so. So I dug through the images I have on my computer* and found some cool shiny things for you to look at.

This is a cool pic of downtown Vancouver that I snagged off the ‘net one day. Not sure where it is from or what I needed a pic of Vancouver for…. but I like it.

This next one comes from the Facebook group “All My Money Goes to Starbucks”… a group of which I am most certainly not a member.:

Facebook groups of which I am a member include: Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Fuck this shit…I’m transfering to Hogwarts, The “I am Less Proud To Be Canadian Now That We Have a Conservative Government” Group and the first group I ever joined, Jon Stewart, bed me now**.

Next we have a pic of me as a South Park character. Aren’t I adorable?

I loved this book when I was a kid:

This is a pic of my neice from last Christmas… it speaks for itself:

And speaking of adorable children at Christmas, guess who this cutie is?

I loved CHiPs when I was a kid. Erik Estrada was my hero! When I opened up the CHiPs set that Santa brought me, that helmet went on and didn’t come off for the rest of the day. I even remember handcuffing my grandpa to prevent him from stealing the sausages off the turkey while it was in the oven***. Funny thing is, I have no recollection of wearing it ever again, but I remember wearing it for that entire Christmas as if it were yesterday. I would also like to point out that I am wearing a really styling housecoat.

*turns out I’m a digital pack rat as much as I am a pack rat in the real world.

**The description of this group is: “Everything to do with the tasty morsel of Jewish goodness that is the host of the Daily Show.”

***My family attaches sausages to the turkey with toothpicks while the turkey is cooking. Seriously.

{December 13, 2006}   Egg McMaster

I just discovered that Googling “Egg McMaster” returns a meager 6 hits. And I just couldn’t let this tragedy continue — now Googling “Egg McMaster” will return 7 hits! Take that, internet!

What is an “Egg McMaster,” you ask? It’s a delicious concoction of fried egg & cheese on an English muffin*, served up at the greatest university EVER! Back in the day**, after our MWF 9 am Introductory Biochemistry course, my friends Therese, Jason and I used to go to the Arts Quad for breakfast… Therese would have a bagel with cream cheese; Jason, a toasted Western sandwich; and I, a delicious, delicious Egg McMaster. Every single time. Three days a week. For eight months. Ah, those were the days. And this one Monday during our bagel/Western/Egg McMaster ritual, I dropped into the conversation, “Oh ya, I got married this weekend.” Therese, being the maid of honour, knew. Jason, however, was a bit more surprised. Wow, that means that was 10 years ago***.

I was thinking about this as I made myself an Egg McMaster for dinner. An Egg McMaster with tomatoes and guacamole on it****.

Oh ya, and I have a tonne of work to do tonight. But I’m not procrastinating. No really, I’m not.

*In its traditional form, it also has bacon. I, of course, get it without. This is beneficial because (a) I’m a vegetarian and I wouldn’t make a very good vegetarian if I went around eating bacon, now would I? and (b) they make you a fresh one, rather than one that was made and put under heat lamps. Of course, this is only if you went to the Commons… at the Arts Quad, they always make them fresh.

**”the day” being my 2nd year of undergrad.

***as next month would have been my 10th anniversary, if I hadn’t just got divorced last week.

****apparently I’ve become creative in those intervening 10 years.

{June 3, 2006}   Blast From The Past

Well, for better or for worse, my thesis is in the hands of my committee! I think I am single-handedly keeping Copyright afloat by repeatedly printing this behemoth… but at least it’s a student-run business, so the money isn’t going into the hands of a greedy corporation*.

So, after making the trek to all the far-flung corners of campus to distribute my baby to my committee members, I celebrated by NOT being on my computer all day! I went to the public library and got a pile of books to read for fun! I went and got fresh produce and made a REAL meal (not a microwave burrito, nor take-out) for the first time since I moved into my new place! I unpacked all of the boxes I wanted to and have stored the boxes I want to leave packed in various nooks and crannies. My apartment now looks like an apartment and not a storage room! Yay!

Also, in the move, I discovered some cool things I’d forgotten that I had. Like this cute little sunhat that I bought a few summers ago in London, ON**. And some really cute baking things***. And a sterling silver cup from when I was a baby! And some Pendelfin figurines. And, most importantly, I found these photos:

This is me, circa early 90’s. I believe this may have been pre-Snowflake Ball, the annual winter semi-formal dance at my high school. Seeing this reminded me of last year’s “First Annual Mega-Mall-Hair Off” between Kris and Jurgen. Not that I would dare compare myself with those two preeminent virtuosoes of ’90s hairdom – I pale in comparison. But I do find my bangs a bit humorous.

In grade 12, we did a production of
The Mousetrap. Sarah, who inexplicably is the same height
as me in this pic (Sar, did you really keep growing after grade 12?), starred as Mollie Ralston and I played Miss Casewell, described by the Literary Encyclopedia as “a mannish looking young woman” — which explains why I look so freakin’ terrible in this photo — apparently our make-up artists were superb.***

In high school, I used to volunteer in the chronic care ward at the local hospital. Every Thursday after school I would spend the afternoon visiting with the patients, helping them make phone calls, feeding them dinner and just helping out in whatever way was needed. Since this was the chronic ward, it meant that the patients there were never getting out – they were going to spend the rest of their days there. This was one of my patients who was always a joy to see on my weekly visits – her name was Mrs. Godley and she was really a lovely woman. I believe I received this photo one Christmas and I can’t believe that I had forgotten that I had it.

This is my Great Granny, Sarah Snow. I remember visiting her in Montreal as a kid — she had this player piano and my sister and I would be endlessly entertained when she would pump the pedals to make the piano play on its own… it was like magic to us. When I was in high school, she fell and broke her hip and died shortly after, at the age of 98. I was in Kingston with Sarah at the time — I have a silver locket that she gave me as a kid, which I was wearing and the chain of which broke the same day she died. When my family went to the funeral home, I remember walking into the building and thinking it sounded like a party was going on, rather than a viewing… everyone was laughing and telling stories of all the funny things Great Granny used to do and say. It was truly a celebration her life. That was the first funeral I ever went to.

This is a picture of my dad and my uncles Bob and Greg from when they were little. I don’t know who is who in the photo. My uncle Bob died at the age of 21 in a boating accident on the Lachine Rapids. My grandfather is an avid hunter and used to take my dad and uncles hunting. Uncle Bob once said that if he died before his brothers, he wanted to be reincarnated as a duck and that, while hunting, they would try to shoot him, they’d be sure they had the duck in their sights, but they’d miss and he’d laugh at them. My dad swears that this happened exactly as Uncle Bob described after Bob died… he had a duck in his sights, shot and somehow the duck didn’t get hit, and then the duck started to quack and it sounded just like laughing.

This is my Grandpa and Grandma Griffin. Grandma died of cancer when I was 3, Grampa died of a heart attack when I was 5. I don’t remember my Grandma, but my sister remembers my aunts sneaking us under a fence so that we could sit outside the window of Grandma’s ICU room so we could wave at her (kids weren’t allowed in the ICU). I do remember my Grandpa – he had this little plastic tea set for us to play with when we visited; we used to take it to the park and play with it in the sandbox. He also gave us the foam off the top of his beer and told us it was ice cream. I remember my sister and I being very upset that we weren’t allowed to go to Grampa’s funeral. Our babysitters that day took us to the park and to the penny candy store to try to distract us, but we still remembered that everyone was at Grampa’s funeral, even despite getting those chocolate cigarettes. When my Grandpa died, everyone in the family got a framed copy of this photo and whenever I think of my grandparents, this is how I picture them. My sister and I were the only grandchildren that my grandparents lived to see (they have 9 grandkids now).

*which will be small consolation when I go bankrupt from all the money I’ve spent on printing these past few months.

**now all I need is some sun!

***I’m slightly obsessed with kitchen paraphernalia.

****At least that’s what I’m telling myself, as I refuse to believe that I really, truly looked this awful!

{October 14, 2005}   Exploding Trousers

Anyone who knows me from high school and remembers my fascination with a certain physics teacher will understand why I got a thrill when I saw this headline in the British Medical Journal:

Mr Buckley’s exploding trousers and other scientific observations
Mr. Buckley. So stoic. And the Buckley death stare – oh baby. I’ll make scientific observations of those exploding trousers any day.

et cetera